The European and Near Eastern history of music each followed a separate track: In Europe the aesthetic development moved continously from monophony and modal practice towards an expression of several independent voices and a refinement of their harmonious interaction.
In the Arab, Persian and Ottoman part of the world, on the contrary, the development of melody, ornamentation and rhythmics continued within a monophonic, modal form of expression.
The best of all worlds
As a fairly special case the musical aesthetics in Spain were shaped under the influence of both the Christian, the Islamic and the Jewish culture (read a short historical overview here). The melodic content often showed a popular or folk-like character, and composers and musicians frequently used well-known and popular melodies as a basis for new compositions. The early Spanish music also often borrowed the rhythmical fundament from the popular dances of the period. Thus in the Spanish art music from the 16th century and on, melody, ornamentation and rhythm kept a much more prominent role than in any other European music dating from the same time – without neglecting the period’s still growing demands for refined harmonic structures. You can say that the early Spanish music someway contains the best of all worlds.